On July 15, the Minnesota Twins will host the MLB All-Star game for the first time since moving to Target Field in 2010. The Detroit Tigers, who own the second best record in the American League, figure to be well-represented both in the batter's box and on the mound.
But one Tiger, a staple presence in the Midsummer Classic, won't be traveling to Minneapolis during the break this season for the first time since 2008. Justin Verlander squeezed into the All-Star game last season under manager Jim Leyland, but a 6-7 record and 4.82 ERA won't be enough to earn the 31-year-old a spot this season.
Despite Verlander's absence, the Tigers figure to send at least two starting pitchers to the All-Star game, with the possibility of a third sneaking in.
Top candidate: Max Scherzer (9-3 record, 3.71 ERA, 119 strikeouts)
Scherzer may not boast the top stats in the Tigers' rotation, but winning the Cy Young Award in 2013 gives him the best shot to make the All-Star staff in July.
Regardless of midseason statistics, most of the game's top players are named All-Stars by fans or managers, who know that the game now decides which league will own home-field advantage in the World Series. As a result, Scherzer's dominance over the last year and a half will likely land him a spot on the roster.
History shows that starting the All-Star game in 2013 helps Scherzer's case this season. Each American League pitcher to start the All-Star game has made the team in the following season since 2009, a trend that Scherzer hopes to continue. His nine wins and 119 strikeouts tie him for fourth in the AL, and he ranks 14th in overall innings pitched.
Likely candidate: Rick Porcello (10-4, 3.41 ERA, 62 SO)
If only one pitcher from the Tigers' roster could make the All-Star roster, Porcello would be the most deserving choice. The 25-year-old has earned a chance to participate in his first All-Star game with the best half of baseball in his young career.
Coming off of his first career complete game shutout and 10th victory on the season, Porcello trails MLB wins-leader Masahiro Tanaka by just one win and ranks 19th in ERA.
Porcello is on pace to crush his career numbers across the board. With over half the season remaining, he could record over 20 wins and 200 innings pitched for the first time in his career. Porcello finally matched his elite sinker with an effective changeup in 2014, helping him induce 39 ground balls over his last three starts.
Possible candidate: Anibal Sanchez (5-2, 2.64 ERA, 64 SO)
If Sanchez hadn't spent the better part of May on the disabled list he would be a lock for the All-Star game, but even with just 13 starts under his belt the 30-year-old could pitch his way onto the roster.
Much like he did in 2013, Sanchez is silently keep opponents off the board as well as any other pitcher in the American League. In fact, last season's AL ERA leader is fifth with a 2.64 ERA and third in the league with a 0.96 WHIP.
Though the raw numbers haven't added up for Sanchez so far this season, his value to the team stands above that of any other starting pitcher. During the 10-20 slide that dropped Detroit momentarily out of first place, Sanchez alone kept the team afloat, earning quality starts in all six appearances during the span. His 2.4 WAR is the highest for any pitcher on the roster.
Which pitchers will make it?
An average of 11 starting pitchers have been selected for the AL All-Star roster over the last three years, meaning the Tigers would have to send Sanchez over at least six aces around the AL.
Pitchers likely to make it over one of Detroit's three stars include:
- Tanaka, NYY: (11-2, 2.11 ERA, 119 SO)
- Felix Hernandez, SEA: (9-2, 2.24 ERA, 128 SO)
- Yu Darvish, TEX: (7-4, 2.62 ERA, 119 SO)
- Mark Buehrle, TOR: (10-4, 2.52 ERA, 62 SO)
- Scott Kazmir, OAK: (9-3, 2.66 ERA, 84 SO)
- Corey Kluber, CLE: (7-5, 3.09 ERA, 122 SO)
- Jered Weaver, LAA: (8-6, 3.33 ERA, 86 SO)
- Sonny Gray, OAK: (7-3, 2.91 ERA, 86 SO)
- Garrett Richards, LAA: (8-2, 2.76 ERA, 99 SO)
View: Top AL pitchers
If all nine of these pitchers are selected, then Detroit is unlikely to get three starters on the roster, especially with none of the three being absolute locks. The Tigers will likely send two pitchers to Minneapolis, with Porcello or Sanchez getting snubbed. One exception would be if several of the starters on this list pitch for their teams on the Sunday before the break, which would leave them ineligible to actually pitch in Minneapolis. In this case, Detroit's third starter would be a top choice to fill in for the AL.